There is a depressing air of repetition about Brexit twitter today, as if nothing has actually been resolved in the UK for over 2 years. Which it hasn't. Time is running out and we need something to change - what can we do? 1/ (of not too many)
I think a fundamental problem has been that Government has not been in any way open about negotiations, but has behaved as if they negotiate then Parliament approves. I don't think it works in the social media age, and it was a mistake made in TTIP 2/
Cut to the chase. Better late than never I think we need a proper debate on the Gov's plans. Release the text as it currently stands, and have a Parliamentary debate and vote. If is passes, we're nearly there. If it falls we still have some time 3/
A potentially significant if unsurprising development on trade policy - Liam Fox has as expected said he will accept a US approach to food regulation / chlorinated chicken in trade agreements. Full article paywalled, but key text in next tweet... ….agribusinessintelligence.informa.com/PL218026/UK-wi…
He was speaking at the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board conference in London, and this is the key text. Trade agreements don't specifically name particular products as safe or not, but this is what US trade agreements say...
This isn't yet a UK government position. Recall that Michael Gove said something rather different about US food recently - "over my dead body" on chlorinated chicken. But clearly it is DIT's position, otherwise a trade agreement with the US is not possible sustainweb.org/news/may18_us_…
As good a reminder as any of the most overlooked Brexit issue - the thousands (millions?) of individuals and businesses across the UK and EU fearing for their future in a no-deal Brexit. It is time to put aside the blame game, ignore the purists, and reach a sensible deal. 1/
Enough also of the idea we can or even should reach a Brexit deal at the last moment - this isn't a standard trade agreement where if you don't get a deal this year then maybe next year. They're nice to have, this is an essential 2/
If you follow the briefings, the stories etc it is blindingly obvious there's a deal that can be reached, given a little bit of movement, creativity and political will from both sides. It won't be ideal but will reassure a lot of people. Especially if it happened soon 3/
Puzzled by all the Brexit options floating around? Here's my summary of where we stand
(thoughts / clarifications on this presentation welcome - aiming for a neutral presentation of all of the options)
Let me add (and there will be a version 2 later today when I gather all the helpful feedback) that there may be a timing issue on negotiations in some or all of these options - but trying to keep straightforward presentation
An updated version of my summary of Brexit proposals being discussed variously in the UK. Thanks for the huge amount of feedback, much of which remains to be incorporated.
Not a good day on Eurostar...chaos at St Pancras over changed train, delays in Kent due to a blocked tunnel, now apparently there's nobody at Calais Station to despatch the train... What happens at Lille?
The answer to what happens at Lille, since you all so kindly joined the guessing game, is technical problems with the train. To be fair the scheduled stop at Ashford didn't cause a problem, as that stop was skipped...
Ah, the fields and concrete walls of Belgium, we couldn't complete this sort of journey without another breakdown to spend more time with you...
Meanwhile Sunday papers read like realistic PM and UK negotiators versus unicorn spotters. Whilst we can easily be critical of the PM's approach to date, her party opponents are simply not living in any kind of reality - particularly for business survival or negotiability
Will the final deal get through Parliament? Well this is the argument that you're going to be hearing quite a bit more of in coming weeks. Ultimately the unicorn spotters don't have a majority.
Apparently part of my 'twitter duty' is to point out the shortcomings in articles about future UK trade policy, so reporting once again to have a little poke around the case for CPTPP made by an IEA staffer... 1/ cityam.com/265469/going-p…
To begin with the first sentence is welcome, but I'd want to see serious evidence for the second paragraph - is CPTPP better than EU-Japan for the UK - and that matters as there are already EU trade deals with many CPTPP members 2/
CPTPP allows us to cumulate origin, which means you qualify for preferential rates not just on your own but with other country produce. Good, but how likely is it that the UK will be significant players in Pacific supply chains? Less likely than being in European ones 3/
Ok, we're running a little late on this week's Brexit Probability Tracker, which is partly explained by the need to read large numbers of excitable articles speculating wildly about dull negotiating minutiae
Hopefully in the negotiating rooms of Brussels there is a focused effort to close gaps, and with this in mind we have little change from last week - but EEA edging up as a possible beneficiary of the more likely CU / blind deal failing
And the trend - really nobody should be surprised by a blind Brexit deal since it has been in the lead for two months, if not overwhelmingly, followed always by varieties of no-deal. And so has much changed at all recently? Perhaps much more will be clear next week
So let's start with the scope. Free Trade Agreements, those giving tariff preference in some way. What is not covered, other international agreements which cover trade, such as Mutual Recognition Agreements, Partnership Agreements etc 2/
What do these agreements cover? Goods, services, procurement, intellectual property. Not mentioned, regulations, customs streamlining, rules on issues like competition and labour 3/
Hope this isn't true. Right now the PM should just be saying we are working intensively for a deal, this is not the time to undermine our negotiators. Saying anything otherwise will send the message "I am a prisoner of my own party"
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you..."
To be fair I'm not entirely convinced this is helpful either. I'm thinking a real leader, Attlee, to all those involved in Brexit right now “a period of silence from you would now be welcome” theguardian.com/politics/2018/…
A couple of Brexit stories to examine - first on whether talks have hit a fresh brick wall on Customs Union time limit. Decoded - now is the time for decisions, and that's always a problem in a divided party 1/ thesun.co.uk/news/7475209/b…
You could put an aspirational 2022 date for a new arrangement to enter force, but ultimately this is about the reality of international negotiations taking time meeting the fantasy of the UK immediately striking get rich quick trade deals (which aren't in fact) 2/
If it is true that on the major policy question the PM has decided to maintain a close economic relationship with the EU then that logic has to be followed - and a deal can be struck on that basis. Let's see what the next few days brings 3/
Various presumably coordinated articles this morning from ERG luminaries about what a dreadful Brexit deal we're about to get. Really not helpful to a negotiating team in the final stages of talks, like they want talks to fail.
There has to come a point when we have some sort of consensus about the future direction of our relationship with the EU. Hopefully soon. Let's see what the proposed Withdrawal Agreement is, then debate. It isn't as if there's anything new in these articles.
And is there anything more pathetic than the talk of the nasty EU making 'a trap' for the poor little UK? If you hold such a low view of your own country's ability don't leave? Trade talks take time, years, and you don't get a good result by throwing your toys out of the pram
I understand Crawford Falconer's frustration, but these are not appropriate comments for a civil servant - they are blatantly political, potentially undermine the Government's most important negotiations, and are wrong 1/ telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/…
At a time when Brexit negotiations are said to be in the final stages, and a Customs Union for some years to be one of the ways the negotiating team hopes to solve the Northern Ireland border problem, this is sending a clear political message - from another Department 2/
It is also wrong, in that it yet again equates trade policy with trade agreements. There is plenty that will have to be done Customs Union or not. If DIT and Falcioner aren't going to do this work, who is going to do it? 3/
A short thread that led to a long debate aming trade geeks about the impact of trade agreements on food standards. But essentially under WTO and trade agreement rules you're on tricky ground as soon as you restrict products without scientific evidence
The UK faces the problem that the EU bans on hormone treated beef and chlorinated chicken are not particularly scientifically based. In the case of the former, the WTO has ruled against the EU. We don't know what the UK will do on this post-March
Animal welfare scarcely features in trade agreements or at the WTO (see politicalanimal.org.uk/wp-content/upl…) so we can't justify bans in this way. Statements about not lowering food standards are meaningless - we need to work out how to navigate this area of complexity.
A few trade stories around in the UK yesterday that you may have missed - problems at the WTO over our independent schedules and more on US food standards the main two. And none of it is being properly debated... 1/
Starting with the UK's proposed quotas for agricultural goods at the WTO - we'd hope to go through a process of simply asserting what they would be, but there have now been multiple objections so a full negotiation looms 2/
This doesn't mean we aren't full members of the WTO or can't trade. The meaning rather lies in the fact that these negotiations need to be essentially complete before we can think of completing bilateral trade agreements - as they are strongly linked. Might take time 3/
Thanks for directing my attention to a story I had otherwise missed. Now rather than issue meaningless rebuttals that are damaging trust can I suggest actual engagement in the topic of food standards in post-Brexit trade agreements...
Usefully Liam Fox and DIT could start by finally accepting that trade agreements can affect food standards. It is almost unbelievable that the statement below - 100% factually incorrect - still appears on the website promoting consultation on CPTPP
Then we could usefully have a discussion about what food regulations we want to see in trade agreements - where we may discover we think EU regulations are in cases protectionist. But we can't have this discussion if we pretend this isn't covered in trade agreements.
We still await answers from enthusiastic MPs and indeed the Secretary of State as to whether we'd apply to join TPP with an exemption from difficult clauses such as those which would mean adopting US food standards in preference to EU ones e.g. the infamous chlorinated chicken
At risk of everyone getting bored I'm going to keep asking these questions because trade agreements involve choices, and at the moment too many Ministers and MPs are pretending otherwise. Fine to make informed choices, not fine to pretend the problem away
Just come across this clip of Liam Fox saying "we will maintain UK standards in food" which isn't at all ambiguous. If he sticks with the line we could only join CPTPP with an exemption which members have said is not on offer msn.com/en-gb/news/ukn…
We need to talk about US trade policy and the impact on the UK, now we have a much clearer sense of where they're going in the next few years. Let's start with this FT story about a clause in the new NAFTA - ft.com/content/95e80a… 1/
Quite a lot of hardline Brexit supporters have suggested that the US will place fewer conditions on a trade deal than the EU do as members, or indeed in a future agreement. This is possible, but it doesn't mean unconditional 2/
The use of trade agreements as a political tool is not new in the US (or in other major powers like the EU). Food standards one of a number of long-time issues between the two - see 50 pages in this report on EU barriers ustr.gov/sites/default/… 3/
Another Brexit story in the news this morning concerns the Japanese PM Abe welcoming UK intention to join TPP. Here's what I wrote last month on TPP - it involves signing up to someone else's rules to show UK good intent... prospectmagazine.co.uk/economics-and-…
TPP rules would mean we finally settle the chlorinated chicken argument in favour of the US, and the NHS has to be open to challenge on the setting of drug prices, but the UK would show a greater respect for the global economic rules than certain others...
On TPP another factor is that the EU already has deals with most of the countries which the UK hopes to replicate. So it really is mostly about the UK's place in the world and some big policy questions - the economic gain isn't likely to be huge
More dull but essential stuff - a UK EU future relationship deal could be expected to take 5-10 years from start of talks to implementation. If this included tech solutions to Irish border they would probably take a further few years to implement.
During the period of negotiations the UK will have to decide policy on pretty much all EU regulations - are we following or diverging? Including food standards. No deal without a decision. And our starting point is irrelevant.
So this week's Brexit Probability Tracker illustrates the potential ambiguity of complex international agreements. If we end up with an agreement for a transitional Customs Union with an intended FTA end state how do you classify that?
Basically the probability of a long term transition / Customs Union mash-up is rising - to near 50%. If that fails we turn either towards no-deal options on one side, or discussions of referendum or EEA on the other.
The trend is actually relatively stable - some options rise and fall a little as they receive more scrutiny, but some kind of blind Brexit has always been favourite, which is a factor of the negotiating sequence as much as anything
So, if the UK signs up to a Customs Union with the EU likely to last quite a few years, plus various regulatory alignment, does that make the Department of International Trade redundant? No, because there's a lot more to trade policy than tariffs - thread 1/
Obvious first point - services. Not covered in a customs union, a UK strength, and was going to be an area of focus in trade deals. But trade deals aren't great on services, and the trade off with reducing agriculture tariffs always looked problematic 2/
We should be able to sign services agreements - or push the Trade in Services Agreement at the WTO. Government have suggested we could include visas / migration in trade agreements, so we have something to offer 3/